EU political party leaders struck a deal on Thursday to resolve the political bunfight over which parliamentary committee will control the EU ETS reform file, Carbon Pulse has learned, ending months of deadlock that has delayed work on the bill.
The environment committee (ENVI) will take sole charge of most of the bill but will share competence with the industry committee (ITRE) on certain elements. ITRE will not gain exclusive control of the Modernisation Fund.
The deal was made by the so-called Conference of Presidents after group leaders failed to reach an agreement over which cross-party committee would run the high profile dossier.
But the sharing of power means it will not be possible to fast-track negotiations with EU member states before a vote is taken in the full parliament, according to Ian Duncan, the MEP who will steer the file through ENVI.
“It will have to go to plenary, but the issue has been resolved and we can now move forward with some certainty,” he told Carbon Pulse by phone.
Most legislative proposals are dealt with by one committee, which agrees on amendments that are eventually voted on by the whole parliament. Other committees can suggest their own changes to the lead committee under this method.
Sources said the two committees will share competences on:
- Measures to support energy-intensive industries (Article 10b)
- Options for transitional free allocation for the modernisation of the energy sector (Article 10c)
- The Modernisation Fund (Article 10d)
- Certain paragraphs of the Innovation Fund (Article 10a)
In these areas, both committees will hold separate votes, Duncan said.
For the MSR, the previous ETS reform measure finalised last year, ITRE had little input in the drafting of amendments because its members were so divided on the various elements. This led the committee to vote to reject them in their entirety, giving it no formal opinion to pass on to ENVI.
Duncan said it would still be possible to hold a plenary vote before the end of the year, but this would be “very optimistic”.
“I’m an optimist, and I’m also optimistic that the Council can match the pace of the parliament,” he said, referring to parallel negotiations between member states on the bill.
“I’m hopeful the Council can start giving some signals about when they will be moving forward, otherwise we are working blind,” he added.
The Council’s Dutch presidents, who hold the rotating reins until the end of June, have scheduled an Environment Council meeting for ministers on June 20, which will debate the post-2020 ETS reform proposal. However, officials crafting the bill’s details have not yet outlined a work programme.
- ENVI members had feared that dividing up the bill would increase the odds of delay as work would need to be rescheduled and the bill may require two-thirds majorities from both bodies.
- ITRE had been seeking to take sole charge of the Modernisation Fund, having lowered it’s sights after initially also seeking control of carbon leakage issues and the Innovation Fund.
- ENVI has a record of more climate ambition than ITRE and seeks more views directly from experts on climate science
- Earlier this month, ENVI revised its draft timetable to extend work by three months, which would lead to the bill getting passed by Q1 2017 at the earliest.
- Parliament and member states must ultimately agree for the bill to be made law
By Ben Garside – email@example.com